Ping Trace – Traces (CD)

“At Ease” is the first introduction that many individuals will have to Ping Trace. The great thing is that the act does not limit themselves with “At Ease” in the slightest. Bits of natural (drumming) and artificial elements (scratching) fuse together to create a chill sound that is perfect for any downtempo type of party or gathering. While there may be some vocals here, these are part of a sample that is modified in such a way to increase the harmonies first explicated during this track. Regardless, listeners will be in a receptive state by the end of “At Ease”.

“Solace” takes up where “At Ease” ends, incorporating a singer into the mix. “Solace” is notable because of the different influences and styles that are broached during the track. The vocals themselves are interesting because they take up an eighties R&B style, touching upon a gothic set of influences at points during “Solace”, while the backing instrumentation has a tempo that is a more lively version of the ambient arrangements that were first presented listeners during “At Ease”. “Illumination” represents the middle of “Traces”, and it unites the different streams and styles that At Ease have used during the beginning tracks of the EP. The meandering instrumental style of “Illumination” plays well with smooth jazz styles, but speaks to a listener base that is larger than that.

This is due to the fact that the interplay between the different instruments and pieces of “Illumination” is thoughtful and creates something that is truly greater than the sum of its parts. The track may peter out at the three minute mark, but the song will stick in listeners’ heads and hearts for weeks and months longer than that. “One More” is the best track on the disc, due to the experimental side of Ping Trace that is shown during the song. During “One More”, Ping Traces has a set of vocals that contribute more to the instrumentation than the narrative quality of the track, while the more traditional instrumentation creates a narrative for listeners to follow. It is this reversal of roles that shows that Ping Trace is not afraid to take on traditional musical conventions and place them on their ear: the experimental nature of this band ensures that any subsequent releases will be tremendously interesting and have high replay values, no matter how many times listeners revisit the release.

Top Track: One More

Rating: 8.5/10

Ping Trace – Traces / 2008 Mrs. Johnson Music / 5 Tracks / http://www.pingtracemusic.com /

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